Hope you had a great weekend! We have a new challenge for you at House Mouse & Friends Challenge Blog and I also wanted to share a detailed tutorial on how to color in House Mouse images. The tutorial will follow the challenge and card details. So much to share! Here we go!
Challenge #13 Details
This week's challenge over at the House Mouse & Friends Challenge Blog is to use something from your junk draweron your card, layout or project. I opened my craft room junk drawer and decided that whatever I grab will be what I use. UGH! I grabbed white fiber and an old BasicGrey LilyKate circle die cut that I never used. People, I never used these for a reason *hates*. Anyhoo here is the result! The only thing I really love on this card is the purple cardstock - it is Core'dinations from the Roy G. Biv collection that I got from Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps. Roy G. Biv is a mnemonic by the way for the colors of the rainbow. I think Korin is out of that pack, but she has lots of others including the kind that has black and chocolate underneath - so cool! But I digress :) I sanded the cardstock with a very fine grit sand block to get a subtle two toned hue. The images were colored with Copic Markers. I added Spica Atyou glitter pen over the knitting needles, and Waterfall Stickles on the hat's poof ball.
Be sure to check out what the other team members have made for you this week - I drool over every card and put the stamp on my wish list lol. So many stamps, so little cash ha!
Copic Tutorial: Coloring House Mouse Stamps
I have been asked repeatedly for a tutorial on how to color House Mouse Images, and especially the mice. I know it can seem very hard to add depth and interest to an image that is basically monochromatic but it isn't! Here are a few tips to help you. While I use Copics for this tutorial, you can apply most of these tips to any medium - pencil, water based markers etc.
1. Stamp your image in the appropriate ink for your medium. Dye ink (as opposed to pigment ink) is best. I recommend Memento Ink by Tsukineko in Tuxedo Black or Rich Cocoa. You want a dark ink that will provide crisp contrast, which makes our image pop off the page, and you also want an ink that will work with alcohol based markers and not break down or bleed as you color. Do not use a really juicy ink like Ancient Page (another favorite ink of mine) because you will lose the fine details of the image.
You can buy Memento Dew Drops in all colors from Embellish-Online.com, and they will ship internationally. A four pack of Dew drops is $8.40 US. Don't forget to use code GLITTER during the month of November in the voucher box to save 20% off the order.
2. Separate your colors. Put all your neutral colored markers into one spot, separated by grays and browns. You want to stay within the lighter range of grays and browns because you always want to be able to see the black or dark brown ink you stamped with. If a color causes you to lose the complex detail on the stamp, it is too dark. Usually when you go beyond level 6 for second digit on the Copic numbering system you are getting too dark.
Try to get a mix of warm and cool tones within the brown and gray colors - this provides a nice contrast. A warm color has a yellow/orange tinge to it, whereas a cool color will have a gray or blue tinge to it. This will be easy when it comes to grays as they are labeled by W (warm) C (cool) N (neutral) or Toner (slightly warm - has a bit of brown). For the browns - go by what you see on the cap. I am going to color a brown mouse today and will use cooler (not completely cool) E43 Dull Ivory, the warm orangey brown of Pale Sepia YR24, the slightly warm E33 Sand, and the coolest of the four, Raw Silk E53.
Add a Colorless Blender, a couple of skin colors like E00 Skin White and E21 Baby Skin Pink, and a light pink like R20 Blush to your pile for cheeks and a bit on the ears. Go by the color on the tip of the marker, not the marker's name. One of my favorite blending colors for all colors of mice is E43 Dull Ivory, which is a light cream/gray/brown.
3. Work from light to dark. I like to color the faces first. What I did here is to color the tummy, tail, hands and face (even the part where hair comes down) with E00 Skin White. Work from edge to center tracing the outline of the face in one fluid motion to avoid hatch marks. Copics are very blendable - if you get a hatch mark or blotch do not worry, just do the process again with another layer and it should disappear.
I went over the outer edge of the tummy with another layer of Skin White, and the edges/shadows of the hands, tail and face with E21 Baby Skin Pink which is just a touch darker, so it acts like a shadow. Do you see how the color is lightest in the center of the face and tummy?
Do not worry about blending if you want to add a blush to the cheeks, which I like to do. You can blend after you add the blush if it needs it. If you do not add blush, then blend where the two colors meet using the lighter flesh color (Skin White here). Do not use the Blender pen as that will remove the ink! I never use the blender pen on faces - the differentiation it makes is too dramatic and faces end up looking splotchy. Blending of faces is the hardest part - if you make a mistake just layer over again - Copics are very forgiving.
Adding blush to the cheeks: No one seems to do this but me, but if you like the look here is how to do it: Add one layer of Blush R20 to the sides of the cheeks. You can blend with the lightest flesh color you used if the blush looks streaky. If it looks good, leave it alone :) In this picture I did not blend at all.
Outline the body with a light color (Dull Ivory used here). You are starting your first layer - this color will not be the final color of the mouse, I just like to use a lighter color to create the "frame" I will be working around.
You want to be sure to never lose sight of the arms and shadows, which is what this outline will become. This outline will ALWAYS be the darkest part of your mouse.
Start filling in the mouse sparsely (leave a few uncolored specks) with the medium shade of color you plan to use (here: Sand E33) then the darker shade (here: Pale Sepia YR24). I am trying to keep this tutorial simple, but you want to keep the Copic numbers chosen all within range of each other - notice all my colors fall between 1-4 in the numbering system. The Copic numbering system is not easy to grasp so just remember to keep the colors similar to each other.
Be sure to not color the mouse in a solid fashion - make little strokes similar to hair marks, following the direction of the hair growth, leaving patches uncolored for highlighting. This is especially important as you go darker.
Blend: Now is the time to go over the mouse with the the lightest color used, E43 Dull Ivory or even one shade lighter as I have done here with E53 Raw Silk. I move my marker in a very small circular fashion to almost "grind" the darker and lighter colors together. I follow the circle movements with coloring in the direction of hair growth again. You can do this again and again until you have the blended the image to the degree you want.
DO NOT USE THE COLORLESS BLENDER. That will lift (remove) color. A light color in the same color family will blend, as long as it is not too light. If it is too light even that will lift and separate color which is no good. If in doubt, patch test on a piece of paper to make sure.
Color a few stray hairs sticking out with a light-midtone (Sand used here). I use the Colorless Blender on these hairs as I want them to be very faint and so lifting of color is GOOD now.
More on Copic color Coding: Yes Raw Silk has a higher first digit, but it is still lighter - that is because the first digit references vibrancy (how much gray is in a color) according to Copic coloring code for its number. The SECOND number shows you how light or dark a marker is within its color range (0= lightest 9=darkest). Totally confusing I know, so just go by what you SEE.
Here is the gray mouse. I did the same thing in terms of light and dark coloring, but with the grays you see in the picture. I find the cool tones have so much blue in them - I like the warm Copics to color the mice, and just add a bit of cool for contrast.
3. Little dots are your friend.The tiny dots on a House Mouse stamp are an indicator of shadow, use them as a guide for when you color and you will not get lost, I promise! You can see it clearly in the yarn and at their feet.
The more open space (white) an area of the image is, the lighter your color should be as it will serve as a highlight.
Here is the finished image: see where I used light color (the swelling of the tummy, for example) or no color (the lightest part of the booties and hat were left blank).
More on highlights, shading and outlining later.
Use the Stamp as a Reference: Be sure to keep the stamp itself by you as you color - the colored image on the wood will also give you hints as for where to highlight or shadow, and even suggestions for what colors to use. That is why I do not care for the clear HM stamps - I like the color guide the wood provides lol!
Now is the time to go around your images with markers. None of my examples are realistic shadows - I am mainly trying to make my images pop off the paper.
For realistic shadows use cool grays and light cool blues to color where a real shadow would be. This is not easy and is a learned skill, but in general the piece of the body that is most "sticking out" or the longest will have the most prominent shadow if the light is behind it - pick a place where the light will be shining from and work from there.
A lot easier way is to simply trace around the image with blue (I use BG10 Cool Shadow and B00 Blue Frost). You can leave the line solid and hard, as in this picture, or trace around it with 0 Colorless Blender to get a softer, watercolor like look.
Final touches:To add snow or movement to small areas use an Opaque White Gel Pen like Uniball Signo (available from Stampin' Up!) or Ranger Inkssentials. Here, the pen was used to simulate movement of the jumping mice.
Copic brand Spica Atyou or Sakura Gelly Roll glitter pens add subtle shimmer but be careful - you can lose your detailed Copic coloring with them. Clear Spica is recommended for subtle shimmer.
Crystal Effects, which adds a 3D shine is fun but eve this clear medium can cause you lose the subtle color work sometimes. Again, be careful. I used it on the balls and the edges of the glass jars here. Note the white pen again - here to simulate the movement of the fan. I also used the white pen around the whites of the eyes.
I hope you found this tutorial helpful - please let me know your thoughts as I value your opinions and comments so much. If you have any questions please leave them in a comment here as well, and I will edit this post to answer your questions. If you are wondering, most likely others are too :)
Update: Your Questions Answered
1. Deb asks: Hi. Your tutorial was fantastic. I just put a HM Copic order in based on your advice. Since you are a SU! demonstrator, I have heard that there is a list of Copics vs. SU! colors.....do you know where I could find that?
You can find a list of matching colors on my blog here. Hope this helps!
2. Laurie in MN asks: Would you please list neccessary colors that should be owned?
This is a tough one to answer. The more Copics you have, the better your coloring looks because all the variations of a color add depth and dimension. Usually coloring with markers is very flat unless you can add that depth and dimension. the other thing that makes Copic special is the use of the Color Blender. It is fantastic for creating a watercolor look, and for removing or lightening spots on your paper (even mistakes!)
Having said that, here are the Copics I use the most:
Colorless Blender: Having this automatically gives you at least three shades of marker because you can lighten with it. (Layering the marker over itself gives you deeper shades)
Shadow colors - so great for shadows and adding depth. My favorite is BG10 Cool Shadow which goes on ALL my work, but I use RV32 Shadow Pink a lot too as a shadow for pinks.
Flesh tones: E00 Skin White, E21 Baby Skin Pink and R20 Blush is a must have if you color people.
Hair: I can get all shades of blondes and brunettes with Y17 Golden Yellow, Y13 Lemon Yellowl Yr24 Pale Sepia and E37 Sepia
Greens: I use G24 Willow, YG95 Pale Olive, G99 Olive, G28 Ocean Green and G17 Forest Green the most.
Blues: I use BG10 Cool Shadow, B00 Frost Blue, B04 Tahitian Blue, B34 Mangansese Blue and B37 Antwerp Blue the most.
Reds: R29 Lipstick Red is a true blue based red. I also love R35 Coral which is a pinky red.
Pinks: Rv13 Tender Pink and RV10 Pale Pink are used most.
I will keep updating this tutorial with answers, usually about once a week. Thanks for stopping by,